dimanche 15 août 2010

On beer.

With a FB friend named Genevieve I was discusing a bottle on a photo.

- Blonde or wheat?

- Barley.

- as in blonde

barley goes blonde, amber, dark

wheat is lighter than barley

in the bottle the colour could be very light blonde or very yellow wheat

- Ah, so barley=blonde?

- no, Genevieve:
from white to close on blonde=wheat

the three colours of barley depend on how much you heat the malt when drying it.

blonde is a k a lager, though amber apart from malt colour may well be lager brewed too

dark is ale brewed, typically or universally

ale brew/lager brew mean different types of yeast that work on different temperatures

apart from ale and lager brewing, there is also Belgian geuse brewing, waiting for air to give a ferment, which makes for bitter bear (Lambik, Guese, I cannot remember which is mixed with ordinary lager, and Kriek mixed with cherries)

- How do you know so much? You and Stanford are like super brains ;)

- My gramp was a distiller, from childhood I have known how whiskey is made.
In 2005 I was guest of a brewer and saw some of these things.

Malting is a process in which barley (or, obviously wheat) grains are put on nets and soaked, turned over and around a few days on row until sweet, dried. If you dry them over smoky turf fire, you will get a beer to brew whisky from, if you add barley grains simply charred you will get the right hue and bitterness of Guiness.

When malted grains are dried, they are ground. After grinding, you add boiling water in proportions that will allow over all temperature to be like 70° C (whatever that is in F, but well over 100), so all microbes are eliminated. This is left over night without air (except as said above, for Lambik/Geuse).

Day after the liquid is drained from that porridge (it is called mash) and the cold nearly solid porridge that is left is typically fed to poultry. It works quite as well as maize.

THe pure liquid has yeast and some air added and is then sealed off for fermentation.

If you distill beer you get whisky or vodka. Whisky is from barley beer, vodka from wheat beer. If you do not distill beer it is a good thing to hav made the beer tasty, and that is typically done by adding hops - dried and ground and mixed with ground malt - before adding hot water to make the mash.

There are different races of hops, just as there are of roses or strawberries or cherries - apples are even more different, that is quite another league of genetic variation - and you have one hop for Pilzner (a blonde lager) and another (unless I misremember) for Guiness.

If you make Belgian beer, cherries (Kriek), air exposure ferment (Geuse, Lambik), or cloves and maybe other spices (Leffe abbey beer) may well replace hops.

After fermentation is over - a thing known for number of weeks by different yeast varieties, then tested day after day by taste - you bottle the beer and seal the bottles.

I have described the making of a strong beer. When draining the mash, you have much liquid, and adding hot water once again will give an after soak or two. If first drain is for 8%, second drain goes for 6% and third drain for 4% - if it was the mash I saw, with the proportions of malt and water that I saw. With more water to start with, first drain will be less strong. Obviously you can either mix the drains to get a 6% or keep them separate for different beers of different strength.